- Harry Potter/Ron Weasley Harry Potter/Severus Snape
- Harry Potter Ron Weasley Severus Snape
- Romance Slash
- Multiple Eras
- Goblet of Fire
Published: 02/02/2003Updated: 04/14/2003Words: 58,873Chapters: 14Hits: 107,447
Primer to the Dark Arts
- Story Summary:
- Harry learns he is to be given private (and secret) tutoring in the Dark Arts to protect himself next time he meets Voldemort. His teacher? Professor Snape. Features ghost cats and cursed harps, spells that are supposed to go wrong and don't, a friendly sociopathic Death Eater... and Snape's very naughty, naughty library.
- Chapter Summary:
- This chapter: a conversation with Dumbledore about the Dark Arts, bottling shocking revelations and finally...a plan.
A Crash Course on the Dark Arts
Harry left messages for Severus through every means he and Severus had devised. He wrote on the chalkboard in the Potions dungeon and erased it. On his return the next day, he pulled out the eraser and did the Reveal Spell. He found a response that made little sense to him. Severus had written out the lyrics to some song called 'God Save the Queen' by a 70's group, written in dark angry letters, and signed it Sid Vicious. Who was that? Sometimes their age difference really did show.
Harry Spelled a note and slipped it under the door to Severus' rooms. Harry heard a slicing sound as it went under and winced, glad he hadn't accidentally put a finger underneath. That was a Guillotine Spell. The note blew back to Harry, in two cleanly cut pieces. Of course Severus' Spell was razor sharp. It would be. When Severus didn't want to talk, he certainly made it clear.
But Harry refused to give up so easily. Harry was sure that if he could just talk to Severus, he could make him understand why the Dark Arts classes could not go on.
In the corridor outside the Gryffindor showers, Harry tried writing in the steam in the mirror. His hand came away covered in charcoal. He wiped the mirror, and left a black smear. Harry tried to at least clean it off, and wound up scrubbing the mirror for the better part of an hour. He finally gave up. It only got dirtier and dirtier. Harry slipped out of the bathroom and left it, anxiously hoping Filch would never guess who messed up his mirrors.
There had to be another way to talk to Severus, short of blatantly stopping him in the hallways outside of the Potions dungeon. That wasn't possible, though Harry had fantasies of pressing Severus up against the walls and forcing him to listen, never mind what anyone thought. Oh heck, Harry knew even that was impossible, even if it weren't completely foolhardy, too. Severus was too powerful a wizard. He probably would hit Harry with an Expulsion Spell and plaster him to the ceiling. He would enjoy it, too.
At the Library, Harry waited till the coast was clear and someone had called Madam Pince away from her usual perch at the front desk. He slipped a note into a certain book, in their usual spot in the library. The note sizzled and burned to ash the moment Harry put it in. Wha - ? Then Harry looked at the title. Severus had switched their usual book for one on Acid Concoctions, and put a Confounding Spell on top of it so Madam Pince wouldn't move it back where it belonged. Harry threw up his hands. Every move he made, Severus was one step ahead. The man was unreasonable.
The next morning, Harry glumly ate his tasteless breakfast. The morning mail fluttered down to his plate, more brightly colored advertisements as usual. Harry held out his arm for Hedwig to land, wincing a little at her claws. He fed her a tidbit off his plate. A least somebody could enjoy it. Then he heard Hermione gasp beside him.
"Harry, you'd better open that - quick." What he had mistaken for another advertisement was a red envelope. A Howler.
"Oh no!" moaned Ron. He had considerably more experience with Howlers than Harry.
Harry tore it open wondering who it was from. Severus would hardly announce... but he had his answer. The voice of a house elf filled the breakfast hall. Ron put his hands over his ears and ducked his head under the table, though Harry was too surprised to be quick enough. The voice was painfully shrill:
"DON'T YOU THINK YOU HAVE DONE ENOUGH? ARE YOU NOT SATISFIED WITH THE DAMAGE?! STOP HARRASSING ME! END YOUR RECKLESS AND POINTLESS PURSUIT! IMMEDIATELY!"
The letter burst into flames and the ashes dropped into Harry's breakfast. Oh well. He wasn't hungry anyway. Then there came a snigger from the Slytherin table.
"Hey, Potter. Shagged any house elves lately?" Draco smiled evilly. "You must be pretty small."
The rest of the Slytherins burst into hysterical laughter.
"I guess that explains what you did with our house elf, eh?" Draco added. Goyle sprayed milk all over the table as the rest of the table erupted in a guffaw.
"Don't listen to them," Hermione urged, as Ron slowly emerged from under the table.
"Harry, " said Ron in a stage whisper, "what could you do to piss off a house elf? I thought that was impossible!"
Hermione shook her head. "A house elf would never send a Howler! Who could make them do it?"
Harry glanced up at the teachers' table. But of course it was breakfast, and Severus was never there for breakfast. Probably why he sent it now. Harry could imagine him in his own quarters, quietly sipping his tea and perusing The Daily Prophet.
Harry thought Severus' attitude might make this easier. Or at least a little. But when Harry stood outside the gargoyle to Dumbledore's office, his heart was as heavy as lead. Perhaps... he didn't have to tell Dumbledore about the accident. Maybe he could convince Dumbledore to end the Dark Arts classes some other way. Harry was already not going to tell him everything. Perhaps, somehow...
As Harry stood waiting for his appointment with Professor Dumbledore, the passageway opened of its own accord. A familiar figure emerged, on his way out. Their eyes met briefly.
Severus did not look angry or resentful. Just spent. Resigned. He walked more softly than was his wont, and he left without a backward glance. His shoulders were neither stiff nor proud and he seemed quieter than usual, though he always walked almost silently. He passed Harry like a ghost.
Harry watched him, unable to speak, knowing Severus was well aware of what he was here to do: end Severus' dream of starting a Dark Arts class at Hogwarts, teaching what he really loved, far more than Potions. End his last hope of ever getting the Defence Against the Dark Arts position he had coveted for so long. Consign him permanently to the Potions dungeon, with a black mark on his record, to go along with the already long list of black marks from being a Death Eater. Severus had so few options left to him in his life. His choice to become a Death Eater, and then his choice to turn from that, had severed ties on both sides. Last and worst, Harry could possibility cost Severus the trust of the one man who had believed in him.
Harry knew exactly what he was doing to Severus. He didn't blame him for being angry. Not a bit. But the classes, they just could not go on.
Harry was still thinking of alternative ways he could end the Dark Arts classes when he stepped into Dumbledore's office. Various silver instruments turned at Harry's approach, and followed him as he crossed the room. Professor Albus Dumbledore was already seated behind his desk. His head lifted expectantly.
"Ah. Harry. It good to see you again. I trust you are well?" Albus Dumbledore said kindly, his gentle eyes sparkling behind his spectacles. He seemed to know or guess that Harry came on an unusually important matter, since he didn't interrupt Harry's thoughts with his usual offer of candy or tea. Instead he simply waited patiently for Harry to speak.
"Uh. Yes. I suppose so," Harry couldn't keep his eyes off the floor. The silence stretched on, not uncomfortably, but for what seemed a very long time. Dumbledore's face remained patient, as Harry struggled for words.
"Professor Dumbledore.. I... can't do the Dark Arts classes. Not anymore," Harry said finally. He was glad it was finally out. There was no turning back now. He looked up at last and met Albus Dumbledore's eyes.
"Why is that, Harry?" asked Professor Dumbledore softly. His calm gaze was steady and penetrating.
"Um. I... " Harry tried to be as discreet as possible, thinking of all Severus' hopes. Just because Harry didn't want to do the Dark Arts, couldn't do them, didn't mean he should break Severus' dream. But he was finding this even more difficult than he imagined....
"I'm really not any good at it."
Even as he said it, Harry knew it sounded ridiculous. But Dumbledore nodded knowingly.
"We all must face things we are not good at, Harry. Why, look at me! I am the most terrible typist. One finger. That's all I can do," Dumbledore smiled. "Still, typing must be done somehow. Just because it's not what I'm best at doesn't mean I can avoid it."
Harry couldn't think of a single circumstance where Professor Dumbledore would need to type. But that was beside the point.
"Harry, the year is nearly over," Dumbledore said, gesturing vaguely. "Could there be any other reason you cannot do the Dark Arts classes anymore?"
Harry sighed. There was no way to avoid telling him what had happened.
"There was an accident..." Harry began. Finally, he explained in detail about the quicksilver Spell, and what had happened afterwards. Minus, of course, his personal relationship with Severus. He was certain now that he had sealed Severus' fate, and leaned his head in his hands. Dumbledore listened seriously. At the end of Harry's tale, he nodded.
"I suspected as much at the time," Dumbledore said, with a deep sigh.
"Harry, the Dark Arts are dangerous. Accidents like that are quite common. Granted, Professor Snape should have brought you to Madam Pomfrey instead of tending you himself. Although under the circumstances, she hasn't nearly his experience with exactly that sort of accident, it is true. And he showed poor judgment of course, in hiding it. But sadly, a lifelong habit of secrecy isn't going to go away just because I wish it. It has served me well, from time to time. He has come a long way, as few know better than I."
"But - but he likes Dark Magic! A lot... a lot more than he should," Harry said anxiously.
"Yes," Dumbledore said sadly. Professor Dumbledore rose to show Harry to the door. "Well, if that is all, Harry..."
"No! It isn't - !" Harry said desperately. "I can't go back! I can't - I can't do Dark Magic!"
Dumbledore stopped in the doorway, and turned towards Harry. "I'm sorry... could you say that again?"
"I don't want to do Dark Magic any more," Harry admitted at last, his shoulders slumped. He hung his head.
Harry didn't see the slow smile of relief that passed across Dumbledore's face. But he heard the relief in his voice.
"I can't tell you how very glad I am to hear that."
Harry looked up in amazement.
Dumbledore sat back down and continued. "There is no definitive answer on Dark Magic. Some of it is not at all evil. And even 'evil' spells can be used for good, as no doubt Professor Snape has told you." Harry blinked. "Yes, yes, Harry, he and I have had many discussions on that subject. He is quite an impressive debater! And he is correct of course, if not exactly right. 'Correct' and 'right' are not really the same. Perhaps it is good to know some Dark Magic. Many friends - Professor Snape for one, and some fairly outstanding Aurors - have a great deal of knowledge of it.
"But... I can't help but believe that the best protection one can have, is to feel no desire to use it at all."
"Then... you were testing me?" Harry asked.
"No, not at all. Severus, Professor Snape to you, was quite adamant that you needed the extra protection. I simply trusted you. Trusted your judgment. You are a grown man now, Harry. You will need to make a lot of difficult decisions in your life, not the least of which involve Dark Magic."
"Severus? It was his idea?"
"Yes. I hope he learned something. You can see now why I cannot give him the Defence Against the Dark Arts position, much as I would like to do so. Short of Lord Voldemort or Lucius Malfoy I could hardly ask for a more qualified teacher. Potions, Professor Snape is good at, but it is not where he really shines and he knows it. Yet I would lose him," Dumbledore sighed. "I have grown quite fond of our dear Severus."
Dumbledore paused. "On the subject of Severus, I must admit I was a little surprised when I learned of your relationship with him..."
Harry froze in shock.
Dumbledore rambled on, "...in fact I was so startled, I think I should try to bottle that as some sort of mild Stasis Spell. Yes, I should get started on that right away..."
Dumbledore glanced up at Harry's dumbfounded face.
"Oh, he told me, Harry," Dumbledore explained, "When he told me about the accident. Just before you arrived. I am so glad he came to me..."
"I wasn't going to talk about it! He - he didn't need to do that..." Harry moaned.
"If he hadn't told me himself, I would have dismissed him. Immediately." Dumbledore glanced at Harry over his glasses.
"Somehow I was under the impression that you and Mr. Weasley..."
Harry groaned. Did everybody know about that? Professor Dumbledore cleared his throat.
"Yes, well anyway, clearly not." Dumbledore took off his spectacles and cleaned them on his robe as he spoke. "On the subject of Severus. Ahem. Legally, Harry, you do have your majority. But we are responsible for you here at Hogwarts. I am in a very difficult position. On the one hand you are an adult, and do I consider you as such, especially in light of your recent decision. I understand how hard it was to choose to end this class, despite the cost to your relationship with him. It was a very, shall we say - mature - decision? But you must understand how it appears: a Professor, a former Death Eater, seducing an impressionable young student?"
"That's not how it happened at all!" This was worse than Harry ever imagined. How horribly unfair to have it all blamed on Severus, like he had done some terrible crime.
"So Severus assures me. And if it helps, his feelings do appear to be sincere. Severus is usually never anything but genuine. Most often genuinely irritated... or genuinely annoyed...but in this case he seems to genuinely care. Still he is a grown man, much older than you. I expected better self control on his part. In this he agrees with me."
"And I don't? Have self control?" Harry spoke up.
"Did you want to? It takes experience to know why one should. Even if one is able." Dumbledore asked, then nodded at Harry's silence. "If your parents or guardians ever filed a complaint with the school governors, there would be nothing I could do for him. Or for you. To keep it out of the papers and so forth. You are unfortunately famous, and the dismissal of a prominent teacher would be considered News. However, given your parents and the Dursleys, such a complaint is unlikely. As no doubt Severus considered in the first place. The decision remains in my hands."
That danger occurred to Harry for the first time, and it brought him sharply. His eyes widened.
"Funny how we return again to the question of what is 'correct' and what is 'right.' It would be very 'correct' of me to dismiss him, would it not? Despite the fact that... well, his is a special situation. His life, even, hangs in the balance."
"Harry, with the loss of your parents, you have had precious little guidance. I have provided what I can. But now you are, as I said, a grown man. I cannot protect you from the difficult decisions. I ask you to consider something for me: you do not like to practice the Dark Arts yourself. But do you think, perhaps, that you are still attracted to the Dark, vicariously, through Professor Snape? Severus. A man who virtually lives and breathes it?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "Oh, what it took simply to get him past the Wards at Hogwarts when I hired him, fairly dripping as he was with Dark Magic! That first week, he kept tripping one alarm, trap or another. He was very annoyed to find himself stuck to a wall or some such." Dumbledore eyes sparkled with mirth. Harry could well imagine Severus' explosive irritation. "I learned language such as I never imagined..."
"That Dark Mark of his - you know of it, do you? Yes - that was definitely the worst. Nothing we could do would get rid of it. It is so fundamentally evil... well, we had to disable certain defences and invent entirely new ones. Just so he could walk these halls with that on him. Some of the replacements are themselves Dark Magic," Dumbledore said, "there was no other choice. I did not like it of course, but it had to be done. I put them in place myself..."
Harry was silent. And thoughtful.
"Does that surprise you, that I would use Dark Magic?"
"No," Harry answered, looking up at Dumbledore with understanding.
"Harry, whatever you decide, I want you to know that I am very proud of you."
Harry never left Dumbledore without the feeling that he had just come away with an armload of unexpected riches. Professor Albus Dumbledore never ceased to surprise him. Harry left the stairwell and squared his shoulders. What he needed first was to find Hermione.
It was a busy time at Hogwarts castle. The corridors were filled with whispers and traded spells. Tables and chairs leapt across the room, hurled by those students who were preparing to take their N.E.W.T.'s in addition to their end of year exams. The library buzzed with energy and nervousness (and an unusual amount of noise, greatly annoying the regulars) as even the worst students hit the books.
"If people would just study all year, it wouldn't be so bad!" complained Hermione, glaring at two Second Years whose study had dissolved into a game of racing paper horses.
Several Third Years gathered to watch, grateful for the distraction. Halfway through the next race however, their 'horses' suddenly burst into flames and vanished into handfuls of sparks. Students turned to find Madam Pince, a grim look in her eyes that could probably burn most things. Meekly they returned to their books.
"Thank goodness," breathed Hermione.
"Sh!" hushed Ron. He was in a panic over the upcoming Potions test. "I have to pass this year, or it's summer school for me. With Snape!"
Hermione gave Ron her best 'I told you so' look, but graciously didn't comment.
Professor Snape was in an unusually foul mood though no one but Harry knew why. He had promised them all a Potions test that no one would pass. And he meant it. In addition, he had assigned a cruel twenty-two inch essay - due the day of the exams - and homework for every day in between. Harry didn't study too hard for Potions. He had the vague thought that if he had to go to summer school, then perhaps he'd have a chance to talk to Severus.
Leaving Ron sweating over his Potions text, Hermione slipped between the shelves of books in the back of the library. Her fingers ran along the worn polished wood with the comfortable ease born from much practice. Hermione was really in her element in a library, and this particular one she knew like the back of her hand. Currently she was working on an extra credit project for Professor McGonagall she called "very interesting," to the disgust of both Harry and Ron. Harry looked up from his Charms text and quickly seized his opportunity.
"Hermione..." Harry motioned her over to the window out of earshot of everyone, "I need your help - with some research. I realize it's the middle of exams..."
"You're the one that needs to study," Hermione looked interested. "You haven't done a thing. And don't you think I haven't noticed."
"It's important," Harry said. "But there's a lot I can't explain - " He looked left, then right. No one was about. He took a deep breath.
" - I need to know how to remove Voldemort's Dark Mark."
"Just... trust me."
"Harry, that's Dark Magic! Everything to do with that would be in the Restricted section, just for starters - "
Harry held up a piece of parchment and tapped it with his wand, muttering the proper Spell. It revealed the glittering Pass to the Restricted section, signed in gold ink by Professor Dumbledore himself. "I have permission."
"How - how did you get a pass to the Restricted section?"
In a low voice, Harry quickly explained about his classes in the Dark Arts. Hermione's eyes grew wide.
Harry was puzzled. "Ron never told you?"
"No, of course not."
"Ron told you all about my sex life, but not this?" Harry was a little annoyed.
"Well, if Professor Dumbledore said to keep it a secret, he'd respect that you know. Ron does have his priorities," said Hermione. Harry threw up his hands.
"So, about the Dark Mark... is it some kind of an assignment?" she asked.
"Well... yes. In a way," Harry said. "That's... getting into the part I can't explain."
Hermione thought for a moment before she agreed, "All right. I'll help."
Harry breathed a sigh of relief. He had been right. He thought her curiosity might leap at a chance to learn something so unusual, so out of reach. And hoped it would overwhelm any objections she might have held over his secrecy. Ron would have been more suspicious. But the moment Harry had shown her that Pass, with the all-important 'Teacher's Seal of Approval,' Hermione's suspicions were quelled.
"But I'll need to know everything," she added.
"I can't tell you everything!" Harry was momentarily worried she might back out. His plan didn't stand a chance without her.
"About the class," Hermione rolled her eyes in exasperation. "I know nothing about the Dark Arts. I can't go in blind! I have to know what I'm looking for."
They waited until the dinner hour, when most of the students left, leaving a chaos of unshelved books behind them. Harry explained to Ron they had some extra studying to do, but he waved them away irritably, his nose still buried in Potions. He didn't seem to be getting along very quickly through that book, Harry noticed.
Looking about, Harry handed Madam Pince his Pass. It suddenly occurred to him that she may not let Hermione in with him on just the one Pass. But he hadn't considered Hermione's popularity with the library staff. Madam Pince nodded and let them both through, giving Hermione the first smile Harry had ever seen on the Librarian's face. He thought it was really best that she didn't smile too often. She had truly frightful teeth.
They filtered to the back of the Restricted section, where the really dangerous books were kept. Harry and Hermione stood in front of a dusty section of shelves. Books with broken bindings and knife cuts, peculiar colored stains and hideous emblems on their spines lined these shelves. A last glimmer of light peeped through an upper window. A few cobwebs fluttered in a draft. It felt suddenly very quiet in the library.
"So. Tell me everything you know," Hermione asked in a hushed voice, sitting down on a bench and suddenly businesslike. Harry pulled up a step-ladder and folded his hands.
"Uh... let's see... the Dark Arts are really dangerous..." Harry said, not sure where to begin.
"Categories, Harry, categories. Organize your thoughts. I need a lot of information very fast. I mean, you've been studying this all year, and I have to catch up."
Harry was chagrined. "I'm really not very good at the Dark Arts."
"You probably know more than you think."
Harry ran his hands across a line of books which were now familiar to him... down the familiar worn, leather bound spines, thinking back to his first classes with Severus. They seemed like an eon ago, as so much had changed. Who knew life could get this complicated?
"Well. The Dark Arts is a completely different theory of magic. Professor Snape says regular magic is reversible - "
"Snape's your teacher?" Hermione's head snapped up.
"Yes. He compares regular magic to trimming a bonsai," Harry continued. "Training things in a certain direction without really harming them. He says that's why regular magic is easily reversible. By comparison anyway. Dark magic is more like cutting something down to make something else. It directly effects the fabric of whatever it is and warps it."
"That's impossible," Hermione interrupted.
"No - it's just dangerous. And destructive too if you ask me," Harry said. "Otherwise Dark Magic is pretty much the same. Dark Magic has every classification of Spell we know. Except Herbology. They ignore that, except for what's in Potions."
"Oh, that's rather foolish. Herbology is fundamental," Hermione mused.
"Severus' grandfather thought so, too. He did a lot of work in Herbology and the Dark Arts."
"His grandfather?" Hermione probed. She knew Snape's first name was Severus of course, but she'd never heard anyone but another teacher use it. She filed Harry's use of the name in the back of her mind and continued to pay close attention to what Harry was saying.
"Yeah - most of what I was learning came from him."
"Was his grandfather Eckard Aurelius Snape?"
"I don't know. Maybe," Harry shrugged. "I don't remember if he ever told me."
"Well. Eckard Snape was a very famous Dark Wizard from the 1930's and 40's. He was supposed to have been brilliant and completely crazy and in league with Voldemort from the very first. Though they didn't have much proof. They say he attacked an Auror and was killed before they could bring him to justice."
"How do you know all that?" Harry stared.
"It's in the History of Magic, the unabridged version. He has almost a chapter to himself. Harry, how do you manage to learn anything without ever cracking a book?"
Harry shrugged. "I read the assignments. But they cover most things in class."
"You could be such a good student if you would just apply yourself," Hermione shook her head. How many times had Severus said that to Harry? But it was the rest of life Harry was having trouble with, not school.
"Well, Severus says his grandfather wasn't involved with Voldemort at all. And he would know. Told me his grandfather didn't think much of Voldemort - called him a 'sloppy amateur.' "
"That sounds like a Snape all right."
"Yeah," Harry said wistfully. He'd welcome even Severus' sarcasm if he would only talk.
Hermione said thoughtfully. "I always supposed Dark Magic to be - well, destroying things. Hurting people."
"It is." Harry was brought back to the task at hand. He explained. "That's mostly what it's used for. Since it's against the law, expensive and dangerous, even Dark Wizards mostly use regular Magic for little normal things. Even though most Spells have a Dark version. So Dark Magic is mostly used now for attack. In fact, it is broken down into defense and attack. You wanted categories? I've got categories. There's Attack on Persons, Attack on Possessions, Attack on Property, Attack on Associates - relatives and friends."
Hermione shuddered and Harry nodded.
"Yeah. Tell me about it. This stuff's given me nightmares for months! Just hearing about it is enough to give you the creeps, but doing it? And the ingredients - blood of this, blood of that... It's horrible stuff.
"Well, the attacks are each broken down into direct, fired objects, fields and traps, dangerous items, and something else... umm... oh yeah - a general category - 'turning,' like turning things against their nature. Can't remember what it's really called. The Imperious Curse falls into that."
Hermione nodded once and began scanning the books. "It's probably under that. Or under property. We'll start there anyway."
Dust filled the air and Harry coughed as Hermione selected and then stacked books in Harry's arms up to his chin. He dumped them on a dark mahogany table, and they began reading. Hermione scanned books efficiently. She set them aside at an impressive rate, reviewing and discarding a book in the time it took Harry to read a Table of Contents. The piles between them grew until Harry could only hear Hermione turning pages beyond a mountain of voluminous texts. Every now and then Hermione would interrupt Harry, and they would stagger back with yet another pile.
Harry was beginning to think it would have been easier to just systematically take down every book on the shelves. Hermione had to have looked at most of them by now. It was four o'clock in the morning when Hermione finally said:
"Well, this is it."
Harry shook himself, realizing he had been dozing. He peeked over the pile hopefully.
"I've narrowed it down to these fourteen books."
Harry groaned and put his head in his hands, pillowing his head on the enormous stack.
"That was fast work," said Hermione with innocent and somewhat mind-boggling cheer. "This is everything on the Dark Mark. Their bibliographies all reference each other."
They spent another hour putting the other books back, and put a 'Hold' on those fourteen on Madam Pince's desk. Hermione assured Harry it would be okay to leave them there.
"Madam Pince does this for me all the time. We can start again tomorrow."
Wonderful. Just how Harry wanted to spent his Saturday.
Hermione was positively beaming.
"See you at ten o'clock. That should be plenty of sleep."
Ten o'clock came far too soon. Harry skipped his shower and staggered into the library - only to find Hermione already there, reading.
"I couldn't sleep. I thought I saw something last night and it kept bothering me."
Harry yawned. Even being here at ten o'clock gave them only four hours.
"How many hours did you sleep?" he asked.
"Oh, I dunno, one or two. I can make up for it later - look at this Harry." She dragged over a book almost too big for her to lift. "I found all sorts of things on the Dark Mark. They've tried to remove it before of course...'
"Yes?" Harry was suddenly considerably more awake.
"Well I've got bad news and bad news."
"Okay, give me the bad news first," Harry said.
"First: it cannot be removed. Or rather, it can be, but only by Voldemort," she said.
"And you have more good news I suppose."
"I did find this," Hermione pulled out a much smaller book that fell open to page that was stained with brown marks. They looked like blood. "But I'm afraid it's worse."
Harry scanned the Spell. Yes, based on this Spell, those stains most likely were blood.
Hermione looked up at Harry. "I can't do it. But you or Ron could. It can only be done by a pure blood wizard."
"I'm not pure blood."
"Harry," Hermione said, exasperated. "There are different definitions. Trust me on this: if both your parents are wizards, by some accounts you are."
"Couldn't that just be propaganda? I've never really believed this 'pure blood' nonsense. If you can do magic, you can do magic," Harry said.
"No, I think it matters. For this spell at least." Hermione dragged the really big text over to Harry, and flipped through a few pages until she found her place. "Look at this - see? They're certain Voldemort used the Dark Mark because it doesn't require a pure blood wizard to do it, like this Spell. His father was a Muggle, remember? Don't you think he would have used a pure blood Spell, if he could have?
"But, Harry. Do you really want to do this?"
Harry scanned through the Spell once more.
"No. I don't. I really was expecting something different. Dangerous, sure. But nothing like this. Are - aren't there any other options?"
Hermione winced. "I've been pretty thorough..."
That settled it. Hermione's idea of thorough surpassed even Filch's most sadistic dreams. Harry picked up the book and set it on his book bag. Over in the front portion of the library, Harry spied students starting to filter into the Library for their weekend cramming.
"This is for Professor Snape, isn't it?" Hermione asked quietly.
"I told you. I can't tell you that," Harry looked over the rim of his glasses, hoping Hermione wouldn't pry now.
"I don't like it, Harry. That Spell... it's awfully vague." Hermione had a worried frown.
"Well, Severus always says Dark Magic is as much Art as it is Science."
Finis. Next: 'Pure Blood.'